As part of my degree, I've had the option to do a placement year and work on a real-life engineering project. It's helped boost my skills and my confidence.
I found my placement advertisement on the Indeed website. I sent my cover letter and CV to the recruiter and they contacted me after four weeks, inviting me to an assessment centre.
To be honest, I was very nervous, but it did go well. I was able to show them my skills and a piece of work which I did at uni. You should never be scared if you get invited for an assessment. This is a great opportunity for you to show employers your strength and personality.
For me, there were three activities on the day. First, all applicants had to choose a topic which could go on the first page of a magazine – any topic really. Then I had to debate with three other applicants why my topic should be selected. For my second task, I had to do a presentation on why I chose the company.
The last task was an interview. During the interview, I was able to show pictures of a project I took part in called Constructionarium, and the bridge model which my classmates and I made as part of a module. Tip: show the interviewer that you are confident even if you are not feeling it, and show them the projects you have been doing at uni that are related to the job requirements.
The good news is that I was successful. I started my placement and for the first two weeks, I was so lost! I was asking questions about everything. You should never be scared to ask questions while you are on placement because your colleagues know that you are learning. You just need to show that you are enthusiastic and that you are eager to take responsibilities. If you don’t know how to do a task, you should never be shy to say that you don’t know how to do it, rather than submitting a mistake. Be honest with your supervisor because he/she is there to help you.
During my placement year, I got to use the total station a lot for surveying and I was dealing with reinforcement drawings. I was on a project which consists of building a shaft 20 metres deep, close to a river. It was quite interesting for me as I thought civil engineering was just about buildings and bridges, but it does consist of underground structures as well. On that project, I was monitoring the equipment and I was responsible for making sure that the paperwork was in order.
My communication skills have definitely been upgraded as I was dealing with the operatives quite a lot. They used some terms which you will learn once you start working on a site.
My placement has helped me to develop my work-related skills, for instance time management, organisational skills and negotiation skills. But most importantly, it has boosted my confidence.
Many of our undergraduate degree courses, including Nadanum's, offer a placement year. They're a great chance to gain work experience and make industry contacts. Find out more about courses with placement years.